Three men have been hit with fines totalling more than £1000 after being found guilty of poaching offences in Richmondshire.
Richard O’Neil, 24 and Stephen Hopper, 19, both from Ferryhill appeared before Northallerton Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday 3 January 2011), along with fellow poacher Daniel Morgan, 29, from Darlington, charged with hunting wild mammals with dogs.
All three men denied the charges, however magistrates ruled against them and ordered O’Neil to pay £285 in fines and costs, with Hopper and Morgan fined £515 each.
Hunting Act legislation also enabled the court to permanently seize O’Neil’s Ford Transit, which the offenders used to travel to North Yorkshire from County Durham to commit the offences.
On the morning of 17 January 2010, the defendants were seen lined out across a field in Gilling West. They had with them, four lurcher-type dogs, which they were seen to release in pursuit of a hare.
They did not have permission to be on the land and were reported for summons when police stopped them and seized their vehicle nearby.
PC John Wilbor, of Richmond Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “We will continue to take robust action against individuals travelling to our county to commit poaching and wildlife offences.
“It is pleasing that the courts are taking the issue as seriously as we are and hopefully the weight of the fines handed out will make travelling criminals think twice about coming to North Yorkshire.
“We also have the power to seize vehicles, dogs and equipment used by poachers and we will not hesitate to use these powers against people preying on our communities.”
Anyone who would like to report poaching or wildlife offences in their area can contact their local Safer Neighbourhood Team, on 0845 60 60 24 7.
Further information about how North Yorkshire Police are tackling poaching and wildlife crime can be found at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/wildlifecrime